Assam-Meghalaya Border Settlement- UPSC Current Affairs

Assam-Meghalaya

Today’s edition of the Current Affairs Dialog box will comprise a discussion on Assam-Meghalaya Border Settlement and its relevance from the perspective of the UPSC CSE syllabus. Read the blog to enhance your UPSC exam preparation

For Prelims: Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, Article 263 of the Constitution

For Mains: Interstate-border disputes and related issues and way ahead.

Click here to read yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs, in case you missed it. 

Why in the News?

Recently, the Assam and Meghalaya governments signed a pact to resolve part of their five-decade-old boundary dispute. 

  • Over the years, the 884-km border between the two states has witnessed frequent flare-ups.

Probable Question

How did the Assam and Meghalaya reach an agreement? Will it help to solve other Border disputes between states?  

Assam

Image Source: Navbharat Times

Key Points

Background of the Conflict

  • During British rule, undivided Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 but the new state had challenged the Assam Reorganization Act, 1971, leading to dispute in 12 locations in the border areas.
    • Apart from Meghalaya, Assam has boundary disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
  • In 2011, the Meghalaya government had identified 12 areas of difference with Assam, spread over approximately 2,700 sq km.

Major points of Contention

  • Meghalaya’s Langpih district: Meghalaya’s Langpih district, bordering the Kamrup district of Assam, in West Garo Hills, is a major point of contention between the two neighbouring states.
    • Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but after India’s Independence in 1947, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya. 
  • Mikir Hills: Another point of contention is the Mikir Hills, which Assam considers to be its part. Meghalaya has questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills, now Karbi Anglong region, being part of Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts.

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Current Situation

  • Last year, in a sharp escalation of the boundary dispute between Assam and Mizoram, at least five Assam Police personnel were killed in violent clashes at the border areas.
  • Since then, the Assam government and Meghalaya government have been in talks to solve the long-standing dispute.

Efforts made so far to Resolve Disputes

  • In 1985, an official committee was constituted under former Supreme Court Chief Justice YV Chandrachud under then Assam Chief Minister Hiteshwar Saikia and Meghalaya Chief Minister Captain WA Sangma. The parties failed to find a solution.

Recent Steps Taken

  • The two states have formed border dispute settlement committees and had decided to set up two regional panels to resolve the border disputes in a phased manner.
  • Both state governments identified six out of 12 disputed areas for resolution in the first phase.
  • After a series of meetings and visits by teams to the disputed areas, both sides submitted reports based on five mutually agreed principles: 
    • Historical perspective.
    • Ethnicity of local population. 
    • Contiguity with boundary.
    • Peoples’ will and 
    • Administrative convenience.
  • Six points included were:  Tarabari, Gijang, Hahim, Baklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra.
  • A final set of recommendations were made jointly on the basis of “give and take” policy: 
    • out of 36.79 sq km of disputed area taken up for settlement in the first phase, Assam would get full control of 18.46 sq km and Meghalaya of 18.33 sq km.

Next Steps

  • The next step will involve delineation and demarcation of the boundary by Survey of India (SoI) in the presence of representatives of both governments. 
  • It will then be put up in Parliament for approval.

Conclusion

  • This agreement exemplifies cooperative federalism and will provide a roadmap for resolution of other border disputes between states.
Recently other agreements signed in the Northeast:

NLFT agreement in August 2019.Bru-Reang agreement on January 16, 2020.Bodo agreement on January 27, 2020.Karbi-Anglong agreement on September 4, 2021.

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